Tuesday, September 27, 2005

"Where Have You Been? Who Were You With?"

A lot of concern in the "blogosphere" about ANSWER and the anti-war rally (see, e.g., First Draft).

It finally occurred to me that there is a "Christian" perspective on this. Or at least one perspective offered by historical Christianity, and its "founder."

Jesus of Nazareth consorted, openly, with prostitutes, beggars, tax collectors, and the poor. "Low-lifes," in other words. As Judas Iscariot sings in "Jesus Christ Superstar:" "She [Mary Magdalene] doesn't fit in well/with what you teach and say./It doesn't help us if you're inconsistent. They only need a small excuse/to put us all away."

These criticisms were levelled at the historical Jesus. But not, according to the gospels, by his disciples. Those who said he was consorting with the wrong kind of people, or teaching or sending the wrong kind of message, were invariably the Pharisees. Tradition has made them the enemies of Jesus. Clearly there is some truth in that. They certainly weren't his followers.

But who is, today? Jesus, proclaimed by his followers as Messiah, identified with the Creator of the Universe (or at least his law and teachings), associated with the least desirable and least respectable people in Palestinian society.

So, as Christians, who is to matter to us? Who we associate with? Or what we do and say? Jesus usually told them: "Your faith has saved you. Go and sin no more. Go in peace."

What more would we do than our teacher did?

And, lest we forget, his end was on a cross; a mark of shame (the crucified were hung naked); a mark of defeat by the absolute power of death. And yet Paul bragged of that, even above the consorting the beggars and prostitutes. And told Christians to have the same mind as as in Christ Jesus.

What more would we Christians do, than our saviour did?

In the words of St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel to all the world. Use words, if necessary.

And yes: everyone is invited to this table. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

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